Anti-Zionism Threatens Not Just Israel, but Liberal Democracy Itself

It is all too easy to dismiss the movement boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS) as insignificant—having sway only among academic radicals, student activists, and the extremist fringes of the Democratic party. But to do so would be a serious mistake, writes William Kolbrener:

[T]he ideas that inform BDS, and which have influenced parts of the Democratic Party, are part of an ideological status quo at humanities departments across the United States. Specifically, the creed of “intersectionality” positions Zionism and Israel as beyond the postmodern pale: the embodiment of fundamentalist religion, ultra-nationalist politics, and militarism. . . .

Like Satan in John Milton’s great epic Paradise Lost, in order to win BDS must merely create a moral equivalence between the heavenly and satanic angels. BDS does not need . . . to bring centrist liberals to their Devil’s party. Just suggesting a moral equivalence between Israel and its adversaries is enough to persuade life-long liberals to entertain the devil’s fictions: that, for example, the seventeen-year-old girl who was killed last month after swimming with her brother and father “was a settler, after all.” . . .

Those in the BDS movement, and especially their radical Islamist allies, understand the ideological exhaustion of liberals. They cultivate the growing, if still somewhat suppressed, notion among them that the institutions of democracy are irrevocably tainted by colonialism, racism, and sexism.

Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Zionism, BDS, Democrats, John Milton, liberal democracy

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood